As the weather warms and the sun comes out on a more regular basis, we begin to think about being beach body ready. We might all know exactly what it takes to get there, but few have the discipline to implement uncomfortable new habits of restraint.
We can wake up with all the best intentions for a diet change, but at the end of the day, we have completed none of the expectations. We either plan to start over tomorrow, or we give up on our goals.
Mayo Clinic health coach Sarah Hays Coomer tells the story of a client who ate a pint of ice cream every night while simultaneously wanting to get fit and healthy. Every night she faced a battle, and ice cream always came out the winner. The challenge that many people face, Coomer explains, is that life comes with many stressors and sometimes we need a break from all the restrictions.
Unhealthy habits are coping mechanisms just like healthy ones.
First, we try to control our emotions and then we try to control our habits meant to soothe us. Ultimately it is an exhausting cycle that needs less control and more freedom of choice.
In order to adjust a habit, we first need to find out what matters and motivates us. Then we have to clear the path so the new choice is easy. Coomer instructed her ice cream addict client to eat a pint of ice cream every night for a week (which she was already doing) and document how it felt both in the moment, and how she felt after. What she discovered shocked her.
Learn to Listen to Your Body
After a week of intending to eat a pint each night, this client came to Coomer having failed. Not only did she begin to connect her poor sleep and bloated feeling to her habit, just the fact of knowing there would be another pint of ice cream the next night sated her after 1/2 of a pint. She was able to listen to her body and discover that she didn’t need to eat ice cream in large quantities to feel sated. She had put herself in the position to choose.
If you want to change a habit, consider diving into your old ones and forge your own path.